CHINA / National

Clicks drive boom in legal music downloads
By Joy Lu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-21 06:11

Cash strapped teenagers are topping up their music collections with cheap legal downloads, as online music outstrips CD sales.

A rash of copyrighted music download websites have launched in China over the past few months, offering rapid access to the latest pop hits for around one yuan (13 US cents) per song.

Of course Internet search engines can still pick up illegal free download sites, but all the talk of intellectual property rights (IPR) makes some people feel guilty about stealing music online.

Instead of breaking the law they can now visit legal sites such as, which boasts a million-song catalogue.

Browsers might be looking for Taiwan heartthrob Wong Leehom, for example. And sure enough, he's there, with his latest album, "Heroes of Earth."

And here lies the new media's real selling point the entire album can be downloaded for 10 yuan (US$1.25), opposed to about 40 yuan (US$5) to buy the CD.

A number of copyrighted music download websites, which buy songs from record labels in the hope of targeting the mainstream market, have set up shops since late last year.

MP3 maker Huaqi Information Digital Technology opened in October; established music website 9sky was re-launched in January; and newcomers and joined the race in March.

Tencent, which runs the popular QQ online chatting service, is also testing the waters before launching its own music download service.

The excitement over Internet music distribution is hardly surprising with Apple's iTunes setting the pace overseas. International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) figures show that global digital sales almost tripled last year to US$1.1 billion compared to 2004, accounting for 6 per cent of recording companies' revenue.
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